A High-Throughput Enzyme-Coupled Activity Assay to Probe Small Molecule Interaction with the dNTPase SAMHD1

J Vis Exp. 2021 Apr 16:(170). doi: 10.3791/62503.


Sterile alpha motif and HD domain-containing protein 1 (SAMHD1) is a pivotal regulator of intracellular deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) pools, as this enzyme can hydrolyze dNTPs into their corresponding nucleosides and inorganic triphosphates. Due to its critical role in nucleotide metabolism, its association to several pathologies, and its role in therapy resistance, intense research is currently being carried out for a better understanding of both the regulation and cellular function of this enzyme. For this reason, development of simple and inexpensive high-throughput amenable methods to probe small molecule interaction with SAMHD1, such as allosteric regulators, substrates, or inhibitors, is vital. To this purpose, the enzyme-coupled malachite green assay is a simple and robust colorimetric assay that can be deployed in a 384-microwell plate format allowing the indirect measurement of SAMHD1 activity. As SAMHD1 releases the triphosphate group from nucleotide substrates, we can couple a pyrophosphatase activity to this reaction, thereby producing inorganic phosphate, which can be quantified by the malachite green reagent through the formation of a phosphomolybdate malachite green complex. Here, we show the application of this methodology to characterize known inhibitors of SAMHD1 and to decipher the mechanisms involved in SAMHD1 catalysis of non-canonical substrates and regulation by allosteric activators, exemplified by nucleoside-based anticancer drugs. Thus, the enzyme-coupled malachite green assay is a powerful tool to study SAMHD1, and furthermore, could also be utilized in the study of several enzymes which release phosphate species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Enzyme Assays / methods*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Humans
  • SAM Domain and HD Domain-Containing Protein 1 / genetics*


  • SAM Domain and HD Domain-Containing Protein 1
  • SAMHD1 protein, human